Sunday, January 10, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: The Tragic Tale of Cover Up

Last week I discussed the short-lived sci-fi time travel series Voyagers!, starring Jon-Erik Hexum, and I mentioned that I'd come back to his story soon. Sadly, in addition to cutting short a promising new series, the cancellation of Voyagers! also had the trickle down effect of cutting short the career of a promising young actor as well. In fall of 1984 Hexum landed the lead role of "Mac" Harper, fashion model/undercover CIA agent in CBS series Cover Up. Here's the intro for the show, which co-starred Jennifer O'Neill:

Cover Up was created by Nostalgia Theater mainstay Glen A. Larson, and was exactly as cheesy as the title sequence makes it appear. O'Neill's fashion photog Dani Reynolds and Taylor go on missions doled out by Henry Trowler (Richard Anderson, The Six Million Dollar Man's Oscar Goldman), and the whole thing was light as a feather. However, given the propensity of audiences during that decade for making such shows long-lived successes, there's no reason to think Cover Up wouldn't have enjoyed just as long a run as similar skeins.

Unfortunately, on October 18, 1984, just a few short weeks after the Cover Up's September premiere, an entirely avoidable tragedy struck. Clowning around between takes, Hexum grabbed a pistol loaded with a blank, put it to his temple and fired. I'm not sure how something like this could have happened, but nonetheless, Hexum died shortly after, having suffered irrevocable brain trauma. (Here's an interview he did with Merv Griffin just over a month before his passing.) With only seven episodes filmed, the producers scrambled to replace him, and cast Brit actor Tony Hamilton as equally-dashing Jack Striker:

I have no idea whether audiences didn't like the new lead, couldn't get past the tragedy surrounding Hexum's death, or the show was simply doomed to begin with, but either way Cover Up made it to the end of the '85-'85 season, and that was a wrap. Today the series is less remembered for anything creative or groundbreaking it might have done (it didn't), than for the strange, sad circumstances surrounding the death of its star. (Sadly Hamilton, who also starred in the 1988 TV revival of Mission: Impossible would pass away ten years later, in 1995.)

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Many Faces of Super Friends, Part 2 -- The Super Powers Collection

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Crow Flies to TV

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Oh Boy, Quantum Leap!`

Four Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: CHiPs

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